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'Mehbooba' review: Patriotism gone wrong

An India-Pakistan cricket match is a tool for most filmmakers to endorse a protagonist’s patriotism, even in films surrounding the Indian Army. In Mehbooba, when a Pakistani student in Hyderabad is being thrashed at a cafe for supporting his home team, Roshan (Akash Puri) comes to his rescue and says ‘Evari desam vallakuntundi’. Yet, he is no sane voice of reason, you realise when elsewhere, at an Irani chai shop, Roshan beats a group of compatriots for supporting Pakistan in the same cricket match.

This engineering graduate clears his entrance tests for the NDA, and is slated to become the captain of an Indian army soon, without event the slightest hint that he has undergone any training. That’s the level of credibility that Mehbooba maintains throughout the narrative.

  • Cast: Akash Puri, Nitya Shetty
  • Music: Sandeep Chowtha
  • Director: Puri Jagannadh
  • Plot: A couple from two warring countries takes rebirth to unite

There’re more incredible twists, including a reincarnation saga of two love-struck youngsters from India and Pakistan. Roshan and Pakistani girl Afreen (Nitya Shetty) both have memories of their previous births and a psychiatrist confirms that. The two have nightmares about an unfulfilled wish and mysteriously croon Lag ja gale despite not listening to the number before. During a trek with friends to the Himalayas, Roshan discovers deeper truths surrounding their past. Roshan waits for Lahore-bound Afreen to recollect their past life love story against a 1971-war backdrop. Social media and journalists also help him.

It’s a film that bats for a borderless world with lines like “Insaaniyat zindabad”, even as the Indian and Pakistan army generals and commoners hurl profanities at each other. The portrayal of the equation between the countries is crude The lack of detailing about the wars, the use of stock footage and poor quality VFX downgrade the watching experience.

Puri Jagannadh’s dialogues are often a cushion to hide the inaccuracies of his plots; but here even that fails miserably; barring the hilarious sequence where Roshan tears into the irony behind social campaigns.

Akash Puri shows some promise, with his dialogue delivery and confident histrionics. Another takeaway from the film is Sandeep Chowtha’s music, a tune or two impress. Nitya Shetty doesn’t get a meaty role. Murli Sharma and Sayaji Shinde as their fathers have nothing much to do. Puri Jagannadh needed more zip and emotion to make a viewer buy a reincarnation plot. Mehbooba is a strictly avoidable fare.

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Printable version | Oct 16, 2021 12:07:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/mehbooba-review-patriotism-gone-wrong/article23853331.ece

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